Leadership, Pastors

Hiring Church Staff

After serving in several churches over the past 15 years, I’ve seen the hiring process go well, and I’ve seen the occasional hiring gaffe. The gaffes have a lot to do with a failure to clearly communicate expectations.

Communicating expectations requires more clarity than we often assume. The biggest mistake? Thinking what we mean by a certain term is what the candidate thinks we mean.

For example, how often have you heard hiring teams say, “We want to reach ‘the lost'”, “We’re looking for a contemporary worship leader”, “We want a pastor who preaches Bible-centered sermons”, and you knew these phrases can mean VERY different things to different people?

Still not making myself clear? Let me, ah hem, clarify…

Communicating Expectations

  • The people doing the hiring have to be crystal clear on the qualities the church is looking for. Pastor, if a group in your church is conducting interviews, give them examples of what you’re looking for in a candidate. If the pastor can’t give lots of examples, then the pastor doesn’t know who she or he is looking for.
  • Exactly what the church is looking for needs to be clearly communicated to the candidate on paper with concrete examples. Assuming that candidates and the church agree on the meaning of a particular term is foolish. The church may mean one thing by _____, and the candidate may think another. Still not clear? 🙂
  • Therefore, terms and all expectations must be clearly explained with examples and illustrations. The examples and illustrations will clarify what you mean by _____. Think that’s too simple? I have been shocked by the vagueness I’ve seen during hiring processes. You may end up saving the church and the new hire a lot of heartache by simply giving examples and illustrations of what you’re looking for. For example…

If you’re hiring a children’s or youth pastor, show him or her a video of the kind of ministry you want him or her to lead. Give lots of examples.

If you’re hiring a music leader, play songs and show videos of the kind of music and experience you want him or her to create. Ask for videos and recordings from them. Audition him or her with a full band.

If you’re hiring a senior pastor, list examples of pastors your church looks to as models (and, yes, people in your church have preconceived ideas about what what a pastor is like). Give examples of audio or video sermons your church likes.

The job description posted online should be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re looking to hire a youth pastor, list the youth ministries and youth pastors you’re thinking of as models. If you’re looking for a worship leader, list the style and songs you’re looking for (“We’re looking for a worship leader in the style of _____ who plays songs like ______”).

So… to make myself crystal clear… communicate expectations clearly by using lots of concrete examples.


(Also see “The Level 5 Leader”)

(Also see Tony Morgan 10 Keys to a Smart Staffing Strategy)

Here are some nationally known church job search websites. To reach a national pool of candidates, you can post your job opening on one or more of these:





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